When CrossFit.com first came online in the early 2000s, it was about top level fitness…constantly varied, functional movements, performed at relatively high intensity. You would do the workout of the day (WOD). The WOD is one workout. It could be a heavy barbell lift like a back squat, or it could be a couplet or triplet of movements, like a combination pull-ups, push presses, and running done for time. Workouts are shorter and more intense than an easy jog on a treadmill. Every fourth day is a rest day to allow the body to recover in order to get stronger, faster, and fitter. The CrossFit diet consists of meat and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. This is CrossFit for fitness.
The overwhelming majority of people doing CrossFit do so for improved fitness. These people want to live healthy and productive lives, feel good, look good, and be prepared for whatever life may throw at them.
In the past few years we have seen the birth and slow maturation of CrossFit the sport. CrossFit the sport is for serious athletes that do CrossFit on a competitive level outside of just their local box. They may train multiples times throughout the day. They may periodize their training to prepare for the competition season. They will target their weaknesses, learn and perfect high skilled gymnastic and weightlifting movements, and train with a wide array of equipment (atlas stones, yokes, tires) and modalities (swimming, biking, etc.) They probably perform not just at high intensity, but at max intensity during a competition workout. In a competition like The CrossFit Games, that includes more than 10 workouts in three days, competitors are not really improving their fitness level during such a grueling event but are instead testing their fitness at the very highest level. This is CrossFit the sport.
For the record, I love CrossFit the sport. I salute top CrossFit athletes. My hat is off to them. They are the best at what they do and they surely work their ass off to get there. And it’s a blast to see it first hand. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to conflate CrossFit the sport with CrossFit for fitness. People see photos or videos of someone like Rich Froning and think that’s what CrossFit is all about.
But this is CrossFit the sport and only a small percentage of CrossFitters fit into this category. CrossFit for fitness is when people come to CrossFit Merge and get healthier and fitter than they were last week, last month, or last year. It’s setting personal records on a deadlift, despite never having lifted a barbell prior to coming in.
CrossFit for fitness is overcoming fears and seeing the remarkable things the body is capable of.
So next time you see the CrossFit Games on television, or you come across a ridiculous photo from some local CrossFit competition, remember the difference between the CrossFit for fitness and CrossFit the sport.
And remember, CrossFit the sport, even for the very elite, can also be pretty damn stupid and unsafe. As a coach, I can confidently say that there is nothing CrossFit (sport or otherwise) about this.
Workout of the Day:
4 rounds for max reps of:
30 sec max hang power cleans (50/30# dumbbells)
30 sec rest
30 sec max strict pull-ups (bands are okay but still must be strict)
30 sec rest
30 sec max burpees
30 sec rest